NBCCD Support the Creation of Mawi’art: Wabanaki Artist Collective


from Charles Gaffney, Department Head, NBCCD:

In 2013, I had a vision regarding our graduating students of the Aboriginal Visual Arts (AVA) Program at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design (NBCCD). How great would it be for them to transition from college to a supporting entrepreneurial environment that would enable them to refine their business skills while producing their traditional art and fine craft? I had visited Saint John, NB on a number of occasions and was very impressed with the Port City’s cruise ship terminal and sales opportunities for NB artists. I pictured our graduates setting up a professional display in which visitors could purchase work, and observe practices like pounding ash logs, making baskets, pottery, canoe paddles and other traditional crafts. Tens of thousands of cruise ship tourists visit Saint John every year and I saw this as an opportunity to increase engagement and raise awareness of East Coast Aboriginal art, while providing ready sales potential for our graduates.

I brought my ideas to Harriet Taylor, the Academic Dean at NBCCD. Harriet not only supported my initial thoughts but also continues to help navigate and nurture this idea to where it is today. She played an instrumental role in the development of this project and together we secured $180,000 over three years from the Province of New Brunswick for a feasibility study (Dr. Verle Harrop), business development plan (Dr. Taylor Gray, Tacit Elements) and business establishment. In the first two years, the original “pop-up” concept evolved to a vigorous business model that ensured long-term sustainability. There were a number of changes from my original idea that I felt were smart and aggressive in this business model.

Read more here.